In recent years, Italy has made significant progress in becoming a major hub for digital transformation in Europe. The country’s advanced telecommunications infrastructure and robust digital ecosystem has especially positioned Italy as a crucial gateway for Asia-Pacific network traffic entering Europe.
While Marseille, France is currently Europe’s fastest-growing interconnection hub, with direct landing of more than a dozen submarine cable systems, the industry is already foreseeing bottleneck situations as the global digital economy continues to flourish.
“Clearly Marseille alone can’t meet all the requirements for intercontinental connectivity from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia,” said Alan Mauldin, research director at TeleGeography. “Enhancing other Mediterranean hubs, such as Palermo and emerging ones like Genoa (both in Italy), is important to ensure sufficient resiliency exists.”
Italy’s strategic location in the Mediterranean, at the crossroads of Europe, Africa, and Asia, makes it an important transit point for network traffic flowing between these regions. In particular, the increased sourcing of digital content and services from Asia has created new bandwidth mandates and more interest in looking at Italy as a major network gateway into Europe. This is supported by the Italian government and private sector’s continued investments in digital infrastructure and a supportive regulatory environment.
The market is seeing an increase in strategic infrastructure projects to further prepare Italy for growing network connectivity demands. Construction of the Unitirreno Submarine Network is the latest key initiative focused on strengthening the country’s position as a gateway into Europe. Survey operations are in progress for Unitirreno which is also the Mediterranean region’s first repeatered 24-pair fiber optic open cable system. This new system is scheduled to be ready for service by Q2 2025.
“Unitirreno will strengthen the development of the Italian digital infrastructure, allowing us to be an alternative to the current hub of Marseille and provide strategic landing points for requirements from Asia and Africa,” said Renato Brunetti, Unitirreno’s president and CEO.
In addition to Unitirreno, other new submarine cable systems under development to land in Italy include BlueMed which will land at Telecom Italia Genoa; 2Africa at Equinix GN1; and Jio’s lndia-Europe-Xpress (IEX) which is expected to land in Savona.
The anticipated landing of these new submarine cables will further enable interconnectivity to neighboring countries while enhancing redundancy and resiliency as Italy prepares to make a bigger impact as a network gateway into Europe.